In marketing, we talk a lot about creating “buzz.” The idea is that if you can get other people talking about your message, and passing it on to their friends, that that is more effective than inundating your audience with commercials. The challenge is that people are much more inclined to pass along something negative than they are to talk about a positive experience, so the number of positive experiences must far outweigh that negative ones in order for the “buzz” to have a beneficial effect. We see this in our relationships as well. Psychologists tell us that for every negative thing we say, it requires some multiplied number of positive things to just get us back to “equal.” We tend to overly focus on the negative.
Yet, just as we are quick to share negative things about the product we purchased, or the store we purchased, we are quick to use our words to publicly disparage those we love. The problem is that what we have said is passing or in a moment of anger, is what people remember. To combat this, we need to develop the habit of speaking well of our spouse. Not just in every once in a while, but as a way of life.
There are at least three reasons why this is important:
- It guards against temptation. – When you are speaking well of your spouse, you’re reminded of all the great things about them – which is good for your relationship. However, it is also good for other people to hear the delight that you find in the one you love. People of the opposite sex will not find you an unlikely candidate for temptation if you’re frequently acknowledging how great your current relationship is.
- It affirms their position.– Similarly, it’s important that we speak well of our spouse because it doing so we demonstrate their priority in our lives. We need to regularly acknowledge to ourselves and to others that our loved ones are important – that after God, our spouse takes precedent. Speaking well of them helps communicate this, and reminds us of the need to serve them before ourselves.
- It models commitments. – When we shared our vows on our wedding day, we were committing to live in a certain way towards our spouse. Using our words to honor them, helps demonstrate the fulfillment of these vows. They obviously aren’t the complete fulfillment of them, but if we can speak well of those we love it goes a long way towards moving in that direction. It also models what love looks like to a watching world. People will judge us by our actions to be sure, but if we aren’t speaking well of our loved one, they probably won’t stick around to see how we behave.
So what does it mean to speak well of our spouse? How can we do that practically? Here are three suggestions:
- Celebrate their achievements. – As written about earlier, we should be our spouse’s biggest cheerleader. One of the ways that we need to speak well of our husband and wive is to celebrate with them when they do something significant. We need to encourage them towards whatever work that God is doing in their lives and whether it’s a job promotion, or progress in their spiritual walk we need to rejoice in how God is working within them to accomplish His purposes.
- Acknowledge Giftedness. – Another way that we can speak well of our spouse is to regularly acknowledge the gifts that our Father has given them. Of course, it’s important that we recognize the Source of these gifts, but at the same time, we can affirm the areas that we see that God has bestowed talents and abilities in our spouse. By doing so, not only do we recognize their areas of strength, but we acknowledge the ways in which God has uniquely created them for the purpose of His kingdom, and how God has used those gifts to sanctify us and bring us closer to Him.
- Commend Obedience. – One of the most encouraging ways we can speak well of our spouse may be to state how we see them growing in their relationship with our Savior. We have a front-row seat to what God is doing in their lives, and when they respond appropriately to the work that He is doing, this is worthy of encouragement. When our loved one makes the hard choice that pleases God, but costs them, we should applaud that – for the purpose of acknowledging how God is using our spouse for His glory. This world is not an easy place for a Christian, and as our spouse obeys God and conforms to His work in their life, we should use our words to encourage them.
When speaking well of our spouse we have to be careful to check our motives. After all, we need to be doing it in order to honor God first of all, and encourage them. However, if we are so committed to using our words in this way, not only will it benefit our marriage, but it will make it an even better representation of the kind of love God desires between Him and His Church.